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Ubong King

Ubong King is the Convener of Thinkation and founder, Ubong King foundation, in this interview with Kehinde Olatunji; he speaks on the importance of engaging profitable thinking with education for a successful life.

What is the theme of this year’s event and what informed the choice?
This is the third edition of Thinkation and it is called Thinkation XX. The first edition was called to activate your thinking. Thinkation is coined from thinking and education. A lot of Nigerians are good with education but they don’t think, so because of that they passed their influence to people who are thinking and that is why there are few jobs in the country.

The role of Thinkation is to bring the two (education and thinking) together in such a way that will give room for opportunity. For this year edition, the theme is “Break the Rules.” Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over again and expect a different result. A lot of people are stagnant because they have been confined to certain rules, if you want a different result, you need to change the paradigm, that is what the theme is about. It is meant to disrupt your comfort zone, help you to force yourself out of self-pity and move out of the box.

What makes this year’s programme different from the previous ones and who are the expected speakers?
One of the things that are hidden in this year’s programme is that the theme is about the lion’s pride. A lion pride is made up of a father, which is the lion, the lioness and the cubs. One thing that is unique about the lion is that they are family-oriented. In Nigeria today, the family values have eroded drastically, there are cases whereby the younger ones are irresponsible. The responsibility of the lions is to protect the territory. The government has a responsibility to protect our country. The leaders are also supposed to be able to prepare the young ones to take over. The responsibilities of leaders are to provide territorial integrity. The lions teach the cubs discipline, you will never see a lion eating and the cubs eating at the same time. The lion has to eat first but here we have young boys and girls who insult their parents and this is because they are not taught discipline. In Nigeria, hardly will you see a business or industry that crossed from one generation to the other. Successful fathers seem to protect their children from the truth of how they survive, so thinkation third edition is having that feeling of a lion, lionesses and cubs. We have children under the ages of 15 who will be speaking. We also have two sets of lionesses, we also have a panel-people from different industries and finally, we have the lions. These are accomplished people, so, they will tell us how they found their purpose and were able to push to the next level. Among the speakers include Folusho Philips, Richard Mofe Damijo, Unyime Ivy-King, Ayo Makun, Allen Onyema, Dolapo Badmus, Aderemi Oludare, Yvonne Chioma Ofodile, Temitope Johnson and Atara King among others.

The country is faced with a lot of hiccups, what do you think is the problem and how do we overcome them?
In Nigeria, there are two major problems, the first is tribalism, we are so engraved in tribalism that any opportunity that comes, we first want to think of our tribe, this is in all the sectors, not only the federal, states, or local government. People are not interested in who can do the job best, and so there are lots of square pegs in round holes. The second is religion. The country will continue to be at a loss if these problems do not stop. These two things called tribe and religion when it comes together, it is called politics. Politics now get influenced by these two things and the only way to counter these anomalies is through values. We must be able to fight the so-called politics that is made up of tribalism and religion.

We need to teach our children values, how to respect people because tomorrow at a certain age, there is a responsibility where you let those young people exhibit their potentials. Stop protecting your children from the world, you must teach them that they should learn to fight. But if you keep and pamper them, the world is waiting for them to deal with them. At a certain point, children are meant to start their lives and the government is meant to plan system whereby young Nigerians can get an internship and later work for themselves and get some kind of leverage and build skills over time. If you tell somebody who is 25 years old, that they cannot find jobs anymore and that is why cooperate Nigerians need to wake up and start giving opportunity for young people to excel. But make sure they teach values, it is dangerous for someone to find a gift without finding value because if he finds gift without value he abuses the system.

Would you say that the system that Nigeria is currently running is working?
Since it is in the constitution the systems are there, but the proof of whether it is working is still in the whole system and it is not something caused by this government but something that has been in existence. So, if we feel it’s not working and there is a need for change, we have to start now.

Do you think the Constitution is part of the problem of this country because many people have tagged as being inaccurate?
I may not be a good lawyer or someone vested in the constitution, but I believe everyone is learned, they know what is right and wrong. One of the things I know is that a lot of people who are into politics are not fit to be there, because if we have somebody who does not understand responsibility and responsibility comes with accountability, now if somebody does not understand the responsibility and you give him the opportunity, he will abuse it. I don’t understand why someone is given an office and he has four to ten cars in convoy for one man with taxpayer’s money, isn’t that ridiculous. The money should be used to fix the road, build schools, that will be valuable. Our politicians don’t need security, what they need is for the people to be happy by leading well.

What is your advice to the politicians?
They should come to thinkation and begin to learn what is necessary and how to build a system that works. They are there because of us, they are to represent us, we are not their slaves. The situation we have found ourselves is so pathetic as citizens when the country needs money, what our leaders do is to squeeze the same people that put them there to cough out money. Look at other countries, there is nothing new under the sun there are models in Rwanda and in a different part of the world. Nigeria needs to look for a system that is working and go there to study how things are being done after which they should come and interpret and emulate these things. However, they have to be sincere that they want the country to be better.
But they travel to all these places

They don’t go to prepare, that is why I said the intent is to go and learn, they only go on holiday. If you go and learn, they will apply whatever they learnt.

You mentioned that businesses do not cross from one generation to the other. So what is your advice to business owners? How do they build businesses that can be passed to the next generation?
A lot of businesses that we call a business are businesses that have fraudulent foundations. If anybody has a fraudulent foundation it will always be in the hiding. That is why ethical values must be there, now if what you own is just a percentage, then cooperate governance would determine that yes this is yours. You are a custodian of other people’s money so if you handing over a company to your son, your son must have gone through the process to be trusted with other people’s money, because every staff that is working for you has been entrusted, you are the not by position but also by responsibility. So if you put somebody who is not prepared for that opportunity, the person would cause a lot of damage to the system. So if people are in business learn how to, the Bible says that a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, not his child. So if your business does not go to your third-generation then you are a poor man irrespective of what you have. This is why cooperate governance and succession planning is very important, you must learn all these things for growth in your business. Your business is not to have G-wagon, your business is to be able to transfer that legacy to the next two generations. Look at the Dubai they are planning to build houses in planet Mars in the next 100 years and the man that is giving the order is 64 years old, he would not be alive, the minister in charge is 27 years old, he would not be alive too but that is their plan. So when you start thinking like that, you will be thinking of your unborn children, we are not thinking of our unborn children and right now Nigeria is the country that has the highest number of children that are born per day 26,039 in a day followed by Pakistan 16,000, so ten thousand plus gap, so are we ready for that explosion, in three years between 2018, 2019 and 2020 we would be adding 26 million children added to our population. Everybody ones to hear how many children are born in Nigeria every day, so we need to wake up because infrastructures are not there and yet these children are coming, they will eat human beings.

Who is your target audience in this event?
Our target audience is primarily young people from the ages of twenty to forty-five. I believe a generation is forty years old, anybody after forty years old is not my target and anybody investing in a person over forty years old is an investment in the past. So when I hear some people saying that he is forty years and is going for an office that is old school. We need to think younger if we want to save this country and begin to prepare our young people for leadership for business for strategy, for taking over industry because different countries are coming here to buy into our shares, businesses and build things in the name of infrastructure but we don’t know the contract they have signed, it is irrevocable, your son is 20 years old and you sign an irrevocable contract of 30 years contract, what happens is that by time your son is 45 years old, he will still be paying dues for that road, it doesn’t make sense. If we have an engineering graduate, let them be challenged to build the roads. If we have people that have been trained in agriculture, challenge them to do farms, it is when you have tried them that they become better. The only way for us to get out of this trouble is to enter that trouble; even if they fail they will become better. Taiwan products were first fake but now you don’t call any Taiwanese product fake again, Chinese did their own and they have improved what about us we can do the same, there nothing new under the Sun. It only takes us to exercise ourselves but if we have engineers in this country and then you go and bring somebody from another country to come and build your road, there’s something wrong somewhere.

Recently Pastor Paul Adefarasin mentioned that a huge percentage of his staff resigned and travelled to Canada because of the challenges in the country. What do you have to say about this, because most of our youth are leaving now?
I wasn’t aware that pastor Paul said that, but I know that a sizeable number of people are leaving. See, people are hungry, and the basic things, which is shelter, food and housing is critical and it is lacking, this is the foundation. Every man, woman, husband and wife want to ensure that their children have food, shelter and clothing, so because of that, they look for the best opportunity for themselves. This is not just happening, many people especially the Westerners have been very strategic with this, they know that if you give birth to your child in America and London, they will have the country’s passport.

And people do not know this immigration policy, a country like Canada or Brazil have what they call the Diamond formation. The Diamond formation means that there is a need for people to come in to get some work done, otherwise, their country would go down. So they give you this immigration policy saying they are looking for people that can work, so when you get there, you are going as a lower class citizen to work but everything to make your life comfortable is available and you will have your sanity.

But one of the things I tell people is that you cannot be successful in a place that is already structured, you are only successful in a place that there are opportunities. Opportunities are hidden in problems, so if you identify a problem provide a solution for and put a price tag on it that is how you make money. They taught us in school to read, get good grades and look for a job but there are no jobs anywhere, so people are moving out. One dollar is 365 Naira, so if they pay somebody 10 dollars an hour and he works 10 hours, he makes 100 dollars in a day, that is N30, 000 in a day, and in 30 days, that is 900,000, such person is the big boy in Nigeria. If we don’t begin to save our country, who will. I have only one green passport, I can’t run anywhere, and I’m teaching my children to live here, and become better here. So, I have a responsibility to myself and my country to ensure that this country works. They made their country work; I owe my country that responsibility.

What is your advice for the youth?
My final advice to the youth is that if you are 20years old take responsibility for your life. To join the Nigerian Army or military you only need to be 18-years-old. At that age, you will be taken to Lagos cantonment, flog the nonsense out of you and send you to Sambisa forest with a gun, train you how to shoot. If the Nigerian government can trust you at 18years old with a gun and a life armour and send you to Sambisa and tell you that you are authorized to kill anything that is against the country against the state and against you at the age of 18 then we can train our youths to create opportunities from that same age. Most of the yahoo boys are 16, 17 year old, they learn to do the negative, we can turn paradigm and teach them to learn to do the positive and create things.


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